Over a bottle of port and beside water, recently, a discussion took place about how anglers can impress their womenfolk. The object of this exercise is to ensure fishing weekends away from home on a regular basis without all the hassle of begging and pleading. The subject, apparently, dominates the thoughts of male anglers everywhere for several minutes of every hour spent fishing – this in an effort to wangle the next weekend bivvied up by a lake. Think ahead!
I had no idea that this was an issue in many households. While married to an angler I had no problem at all with his desire to go fishing at every opportunity. It seemed perfectly normal, at the time, and it is only in retrospect that I realise just how much 'man's work' I actually did while he was not around. It wasn't until my friends started to list ways in which they obtained brownie points, that I cottoned on. I had, it seems, in the past, accrued sufficient points to keep me in weekend fishing trips for the rest of my days!
The big ones, I was told, where not only points were earned but badges, too, were as follows: The Engagement Party weekend (er….no... didn't get one of those) and The Wedding. No fishing was allowed, they said for the week before the nuptials or during the fortnight afterwards on honeymoon. I won't go into detail but my 'honeymoon' lasted three days before my new husband went fishing with his mates and that was only because his mates had been busy. Mind you, I was glad for him to go, I wanted him to be happy so don't get me wrong, I'm not whingeing - just amazed that most women would create merry hell.
Then there are the non-fishing holidays (I had no idea there were such things) that must be suffered in exchange for a peaceful weekend beside water, although if the holiday is for a fortnight the fishing weekends are worked out pro rata.
The purchase of a family car unsuitable for the carriage of mountains of fishing gear was tentatively discussed and finally rejected as too extreme by far. My ex-angler didn't drive but I always seemed to be persuaded into ownership of a car capable of housing a family of rods when all I ever wanted was a mini.
As the discussion continued we came down the scale a tad to candlelit meals - a bonus point earned if the food is cooked and served by the angler, take-aways don’t count, obviously - delivery and collection of a spouse/partner to the venue on a girls' night out and attending PTAs. Bringing in washing on a rainy day constitutes a couple of points, so I was told - couldn't relate to that one, personally, either - and leaving the mobile phone on while fishing gets the nod of approval from the non-fishing partner, too.
Someone suggested holding the foot of a ladder while the wife removes leaves from a gutter and this brought raucous laughter from the group. I didn't tell them that it was a bit too close to home for comfort - they wouldn't have believed me.
The big ones after marriage are having the in-laws to stay - feeding them on a Saturday night is good but actually moving them in and entertaining them for a week constitutes at least two weekends at a lake. And, the ultimate sacrifice, agreeing to cancel an anticipated fishing trip in favour of a family event. This must be done with an air of serious martyrdom and much muttering under the breath to reap any benefit. Care should be taken, though, not to put the negotiation for this one in motion while in the presence of fishing mates. It's far too dangerous and can lead to dizzy spells on the part of the onlookers and subsequent visits to Casualty - a terrible waste of fishing time.